His acting skills have been appreciated by the critics. Abhay Deol has carved a niche for himself today. Quality takes precedence over quantity for him.
In a dialogue with Businessofcinema.com,he talks about his forthcoming film Dev D, the kind of work he is interested in and his future projects.
How different is Dev D from the other Devdas films?
I guess contemporizing it has made all the difference. It’s very much the story by the book. I play the character to the best of the understanding of what the writer intended, within the scope of what he envisioned. So I hope I have got it right, I have read the book. It felt like a book that was meant to provoke, it was contemporary for its times and quite urban in many ways. The character is spoilt, kind of addicted and obsessive and so that’s what I have tried to play.
In a sense the character of Devdas has been glorified
As much as you want to glorify Devdas, he is not a glorious character. Even if that is the case we have stuck to the original story and so if it comes across as we are not glorifying him then that is great. I just attempted to play him as straight and as understandable as possible. Glorifying him was not in my head as much as making him relatable was.
You and Anurag have been toying around the idea for a pretty long time, why did it take this long to materialize?
I had it in my head before I even narrated it to him. I narrated it to a lot of people before I narrated it to him, I did clearly want him as a director. I hoped that he would like it, which he did. Then after that it was a matter of looking for a producer. At the time when I narrated it to Anurag I was two films old, Socha Na Tha and Ahista Ahista. Then Honeymoon Travels released and my market wasn’t that great then, so to have a film with me as the main lead not many were willing to take it on. There were a few who showed interest but were insecure. Vikas Behl from UTV Spotboy was very keen on working with Anurag and liked the idea. So until we dint find them we were just questioning people.
Why a contemporary Devdas? How did you come up with it?
After watching Bhansali’s Devdas, I was really intrigued by the subject. I was anyway toying in my head to write an idea on the urban youth of India and their use of drugs, the culture of music and the generation gaps. When I saw Devdas I thought wow this has everything, I don’t even need to write a story all I have to do is contemporize it and that will set it apart from all the other Devdas films. Just by contemporizing it everything changes yet the crux remains the same and so that’s what makes this film special.
Your choice of films is not exactly what a lot of people call mainstream
I stay away from defining things and that is the most difficult thing to do because when I face such questions I feel uncomfortable. I mean why would I not want my film to be commercial? When we say commercial we basically talk about people coming to watch it right? I want everybody to come and watch my film, why would I think of doing something non-commercial? Even when you look at the formula films its more likely a miss than a hit. Here I am trying to just do work without defining it, for me a films success does not only depend on the product itself but also on how it is packaged, sold and marketed and that’s what essentially makes a film mainstream or non mainstream.
How do you choose your films?
I definitely wanted the big banners behind me, I definitely wanted a big budget for the film I am doing. But at the same time I also don’t want to compromise on creativity and I think the bigger the film the more safe the people involved want to play and the more likely they are to do a formula film as opposed to what they haven’t seen before. So I had to make my choice here and I made my choices.
Does it get tiring or pressuring for you as an actor considering the fact that none of your films have actually managed to see the kind of commercial success one would perhaps expect?
Yes it is definitely pressuring. You really have to be secure to not get affected by it at all. I don’t think I am fully secure; I am human at the end of the day.
Moving forward what’s next?
There is Dev Benegal’s film that I have completed. The title for which has still not been kept, but it’s complete. Then there’s my production house Forbidden Films. The movie I am producing is called Junction and I will be acting in it as well and Atul Sabarwal is directing it. Then I want to work with Dibakar again, there are talks going on. I would also want to work with my friend Vikram Motwani who wrote the first draft of Dev D, there are talks with him. So there is a lot on the cards right now.